Don't use bird feeders, Hamiltonians told, after avian flu found in Dundas turkey vulture

·2 min read
The City of Hamilton says a turkey vulture in Dundas had bird flu. (Submitted by Hope for Wildlife - image credit)
The City of Hamilton says a turkey vulture in Dundas had bird flu. (Submitted by Hope for Wildlife - image credit)

A turkey vulture with bird flu has been found in Dundas, according to the city, which is warning people who live there not to touch birds or use bird feeders.

Avian influenza is a viral disease that mostly affects domesticated poultry such as geese or ducks and wild birds, according to a media release city officials shared Thursday.

Outbreaks of the flu have been documented across the country in recent months with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reporting last week that egg and poultry producers have lost more than 1.7 million farmed birds to a highly contagious strain.

Alberta is the hardest hit province so far, while Ontario has 23 affected farms and 425,000 birds have died.

While bird flu can kill birds, the city says its risk to humans is "very low."

Local officials say most cases in people have been traced to them handling poultry or their waste.

"There is no evidence to suggest that properly cooked poultry is a source of concern of avian influenza infection for people," the media release says.

If someone does need to handle a bird, they're advised to wear gloves or two layers of plastic bags to avoid coming into contact with bodily fluids or blood. People who should also wash their hands with soap and water afterwards, the city says.

Symptoms of avian influenza include the following:

  • Fever, cough, sore throat, or a runny nose.

  • Body aches, headaches, general fatigue.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Red eyes.

Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and seizures are also considered symptoms, according to officials, but they are less common.

The city also notes that symptoms of bird flu are similar to COVID-19.

Anyone who has been in contact with birds or poultry in the past 10 days and is showing signs of sickness is asked to contact a doctor or nurse.

If someone finds sick or dead wild birds they're asked to call the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-800-567-2033.

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